Looking Back on 20 Years of B.R.O.
1995The inaugural issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, a quarterly insert in C-ville Weekly. BRO’s first editor John Blackburn uses the term “ecosports” in his letter from the editorNearly 100 mostly costumed runners toe the line for the first annual Blue Ridge Burn 10K in Charlottesville’s Walnut Creek ParkThe first Lord of the Fork Race is held on the class V Russell Fork1996BRO’s first motto makes its appearance on the cover: Spend your money on sports—we’re freeThe first 7,600 acres of DuPont State Recreational Forest are purchased by the state of North Carolina1997Canaan Valley’s White Grass Ski Touring Center is featured for the first time in the pages of BRO1998BRO becomes a monthlyBRO publishes its first swimming hole issue1999The region’s first 100-mile bike race launches: the Shenandoah Mountain 100Professional mountain biker Sue Haywood becomes the first female mountain biker to be sponsored by West Virginia2000The region’s first 24 hour mountain bike races launches: 24 Hours of SnowshoeThe Priest and Three Ridges are designated as wildernessThe Barefoot Sisters, Susan and Lucy Letcher, hike the A.T. barefoot; the next year, they turn around and thru-hike the A.T. southboundNorth Carolina unanimously votes to invoke eminent domain to acquire Triple Falls, thereby securing the final part of DuPont State Recreation Area2001Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine opens its southern edition office in Asheville, N.C.The hemlock woolly adelgid is first observed in the Smokies after already decimating hemlock populations in Shenandoah. The adelgid will go on to wipe out nearly all hemlocks in AppalachiaBridge Day is cancelled for the first time due to post-9/11 security concernsBig Sandy River in W.Va. is named one of the country’s most endangered rivers Report after a 250-million gallon chemical spill, 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill2002Kristen Eddy becomes first woman to win an Iron-distance event overall, besting men and women at Odyssey Off-Road Iron TriathlonBRO highlights naked adventures, including nude 5Ks and naked paddling events2003Blue Ridge Outdoors names its first Southeastern Athletes of the Year. Among them are road cyclist George Hincapie, mountain biker Sue Haywood, paddler Chris Hipgrave, triathlete Allison Hardy, runner Keith Dowling, and ultrarunner Anne Riddle Lundblad.BRO publishes its first Best of the Blue Ridge AwardsWill Harlan completes a 72-mile run of Appalachian Trail through the Smokies to raise awareness for air pollution. It plays an important role in North Carolina’s lawsuit against TVA coal-fired power plants, forcing 14 power plants to install pollution-control devices. Will Harlan later sets the unsupported record running the A.T. across the SmokiesCave Dog sets the South Beyond 6,000 speed recordEric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, is found hiding out in Nantahala National ForestCongaree National Park becomes South Carolina’s first national parkEarthquakes rock the Blue Ridge near Richmond2004Lee Barry, 81, becomes the oldest person to thru-hike the A.T.Blue Ridge Outdoors publishes its first (and only) April Fool’s editionBon Jovi sponsors elite West Virginia mountain biking teamBRO publishes “Old School,” one of its most popular stories, about grown-up Jay Hardwig returning to fifth grade P.E. class for the Presidential Fitness TestTour de Georgia attracts the world’s top cyclists to Brasstown Bald, including Lance ArmstrongTennessee’s Buffalo Mountain becomes the South’s first major wind farmBlake DeMaso becomes the new owner of BRORick and Liz Weber purchase their first parcel of land in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and begin developing Muir Valley, a climbing area that is now home to over 400 different climbs2004The 500th mountain is flattened, razed, and destroyed by mountaintop removal mining in AppalachiaLeanna Joyner hikes the A.T. in a red skirt; later, she becomes voice for the trail by working for Appalachian Trail Conservancy2006BRO adopts “Go Outside and Play” mottoU.S. National Whitewater Center opens in Charlotte, N.C., one of only two artificial whitewater courses on the East Coast2007BRO gives away a brand new Nissan vehicle loaded down with gear to a lucky reader2008BRO publishes “In Search of Bigfoot,” which becomes our most popular story of the yearNational Park Service makes it legal to carry weapons on trailsDouble amputee Scott Rigsby completes Kona Ironman2009BRO profiles The Last American Man—primitive living legend Eustace Conway, who is now featured in the History Channel’s Mountain Men seriesAsheville’s Andrew Holcombe paddles the infamous class V stretch of the Green River Narrows in 4 minutes and 18 seconds, a Green Race recordPisgah hosts the East’s first mountain bike stage raceRapid Transit paddling videography crew releases The Eddy FeelingBRO highlights the natural fitness movement, introduced by Erwan LeCorre, the world’s fittest manMatt Kirk sets the unsupported speed records on both the Benton Mackaye Trail and the Bartram TrailBRO owner Blake DeMaso launches a sister publication in Colorado called Elevation OutdoorsBRO partners up to host the first Festy Experience on Devils Backbone Brewing Company property in Roseland, Va.2010BRO features stand-up paddleboarding on the cover for the first time.Pat Keller notches the first descent of Linville FallsToby MacDermott, Will Lyons, Pat Keller, Dustin Marquart, Nate Elliott, Andrew Holcombe, and John Grace make a first descent of Upper Creek2011The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declares the eastern mountain lion extinctJennifer Pharr Davis sets the fastest speed record for a supported thru-hike of the A.T. in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutesRoadside Crag closes in the Red River Gorge due to climber misuse2012The Appalachian Trail celebrates its 75th anniversaryBRO contributing editor and gonzo paddler Chris Gragtmans notches first descents of 75-foot Desoto Falls and 90-foot Noccalula Falls. His exclusive feature for Blue Ridge Outdoors becomes the year’s second most popular storyThe year’s most popular story is “The Greenest Man in the Mountains,” a tribute to an old-time Appalachian mountain man who lives more organically and close to the land than even the most dedicated eco-village hippiesThe Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition successfully purchases the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational PreserveYAMA Mountain Gear owner Gen Shimizu unicycles the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, covering 2,754 miles in 89 days with only one wheel2013Jess Daddio’s “Mountain Lion Mystery” becomes one of BRO’s most popular stories of all-timeColumbus Georgia opens its Columbus Whitewater Park on the Chattahoochee RiverThe Southeast experiences the wettest summer season to date with some states receiving over 45 inches of rainfall. Kayakers are stokedMatt Kirk sets record for unsupported thru-hike of the A.T. in 58 days, 9 hours, and 38 minutesChris Gragtmans’s and Ashley Woodring’s story “How to Date a Kayaker” becomes our most shared story everJoanna Swanson and Bart Houck become the first thru-hikers of the Great Eastern Trail2,600 acres burn in the Linville GorgeRichmond-based runner Zoë Romano becomes the first person to run the entire Tour de France route2014Travel editor Jess Daddio launches her Live Outside and Play adventureOver 130 acres burn at the Endless Wall climbing area in the New River GorgeCanaan Valley resident John Logar wins the revered Iditarod Trail Invitational in AlaskaBill Irwin, the first blind man to solo hike the A.T. (with his guide dog, Orient) in 1990, dies at age 73Editor in chief Will Harlan publishes Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America, which highlights Southeastern conservation hero Carol Ruckdeschel and her fight to save Cumberland IslandWilderness celebrates its 50th anniversary. Jess Daddio highlights wilderness in the September feature story, and BRO launches its Wilderness Hike Challenge, which has already attracted over 300 participants.Asheville’s Natalie DeRatt earns a spot on the 2014-2015 USA Bobsled and Skeleton TeamKentucky hosts its first ever 100 mile race, the Cloudsplitter Ultra, on the Pine Mountain TrailThe Holtwood Play Park opens in Pennsylvania, a win for Mid-Atlantic playboaters2015BRO launches a college ambassador program and an athlete team